Are Millennials and Baby Boomers fundamentally different? Probably not…

It is often said that Millennials are very different from the Baby Boomers.

The former are supposedly for instant gratification, are not loyal to firms, will move jobs constantly, will prefer to rent rather than buy homes, love to travel in preference to working in a 9 to 5 job, and care a lot more about social and environmental issues.

This could translate to Baby Boomers seeking long-term gains and are comfortable with delayed gratification, are loyal to firms and have long tenures with organisations, prefer to buy rather than rent, will travel only when there is enough money in the kitty to do so, and do not really care about social and environmental issues.

This may not really be the case.

Both Millenials and Baby Boomers are products of their environments and economic and social contexts.

Everyone wishes to gain early outcomes for the time or effort invested whether it be from studies or in the work environment or otherwise.

Loyalty to any firm is based on a two-way traffic model – both parties have to invest equally in the raising of the standards of the individual and the firm. There cannot be loyalty if there is no trust between the firm and the individual.

A majority of people would love to travel and experience new cultures, environments and social contexts.

Some of the greatest social and environmental movements have been initiated by rock bands, industrialists, actors and individuals of the Baby Boomer generation.

Baby Boomers moved often in their careers and ventured into lands of plenty in order to make a living or experience new cultures and countries. The Arabian Gulf was the hot bed of work for the baby boomers in the 80’s just as China or the mines of Western Australia have been the places to be for Millennials in recent years.

Baby Boomers sought education in the US, Germany or the UK and so moved from various countries early in their lives to attain the best education of their times in foreign lands so that they could get a head start in the employment game. Their intention was no different from the current Millennials who want a return on their investment in education early and will seek the roles and positions to get a quick return on their investment of time and effort. If they have to move firms or careers to do so, that is what they ought to do.

Baby Boomers were the offspring of families that were just emerging from the horror effects of the Second World War and saw their families affected by the war. Some also saw the effects of the Vietnam war, the Iraq-Iran war, the oil crisis and so attempted to get some stability in their lives by purchasing homes, so that there was something tangible for them to have. That was their coping mechanism and so if they stayed in roles longer to pay off the mortgage, that was a wise choice that they made.

Millennials see the effects of high unemployment, high home prices, and recent wars and global events such as 9/11, etc and realise that their lives are and will be influenced by such events. Their way of coping will be very different to the tried and tested ways of Baby Boomers, and rightly so.

Each generation will be influenced by the social and environmental issues that confront them and how they try to solve those issues for themselves and their society is really up to them.

Let us not judge Millennials as they have a totally different set of circumstances to contend with and they are certainly tackling the issues head on. And for those Baby Boomers who are told that they were not really adventurous in their lives, just reflect back on those eventful moments and the turning points in careers, roles or otherwise and maybe you will see a bit of the Millennial streak in you.